FEATURE BOAT Nordic Star rising in U.S.

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The Nordic Star line of powerboats is the brainchild of two prominent Norwegian businessmen, Morits Skaugen Jr. and Jens Ulltveit-Moe, shipping magnates who suddenly found themselves at the helm of a boatbuilding company in 2005. Nordic Star’s company tagline is “classic boating,” and its 32- and 33-foot runabouts, open cruisers and hardtop cruisers wouldn’t be out of place in a storybook New England harbor.

 

NSY LLC, of Manchester-by-the-Sea, Mass., is the U.S. distributor for Nordic Star. NSY president Olaf N. Krohg, himself Norwegian, describes Skaugen and Ulltveit-Moe as “world famous in Norway,” with a laugh. “These two guys — as they’ve related the story to me — were looking for boats for their own use and over a few bottles of wine came to the conclusion that they hadn’t found the right boat yet,” says Krohg. “They happened to get together with a boat designer and after a while decided to go into manufacturing rather than simply building two boats.” Krohg says the pair sold 20 boats to their friends before hull No. 1 was built.

Along with considerable associates in the maritime field, Skaugen and Ulltveit-Moe have had extensive business dealings in China and developed a modern boatbuilding facility near Shanghai. So far the company has built 50 boats at the yard, with two different hulls and four different layouts. But it has yet to sell a boat in the United States.

The Nordic Star 33 Runabout made its U.S. debut last summer. The company strategy, Krohg says, was to focus locally in New England and get some feedback. “Now we’re watching the economy melt around us,” he says.

While the current market may not be favorable to introducing a high-end imported boat, Nordic Stars should be a good fit in American waters. “The boats were designed with a view to bringing back some very classic lines,” says Krohg. He says they combine the lines of traditional boats found on North American lakes and Scandinavian fjords with modern European designs.

Krohg calls Nordic Stars “high labor content” boats, with an emphasis on fine craftsmanship, fit and finish, and ample use of untreated teak. “In Norway we have two religions — those who believe in treated teak and those who don’t believe in treated teak,” he says. “So we’ve gotten some comments that a varnish would brighten it. But I remember that conversation about whether or not to treat teak going back to my childhood.”

The 33 Runabout has a sweeping sheer line, tumblehome aft, a large one-piece windshield and plenty of teak on deck and in the cockpit, including caprails, toerails, the swim platform, cockpit sole and cabinetry. The boat carries a price tag of about $300,000 and includes standard equipment such as high-end electronics, a bow thruster, trim tabs and an equipped galley.

“Another reflection of our Norwegian heritage [is] they’ve basically gotten rid of options,” says Krohg, who spent the first 20 years of his life in Norway. “My personal view is that Norwegians don’t really like asking for luxuries — we’re very egalitarian — but if they show up with them …”

There are Morse controls at the starboard helm station, and customers can choose between a settee and a companion’s chair to port. There’s additional seating in the cockpit. The galley-up comes equipped with a sink, stove and a refrigerator.

The cabin is laid out with a berth to port with storage beneath, a settee to starboard and a head compartment with a hanging locker forward.

LOA: 33 feet, 9 inches

BEAM: 9 feet, 6 inches

DRAFT: 2 feet, 8 inches

DISPLACEMENT: 7,800 pounds

HULL TYPE: planing

TRANSOM DEADRISE: 12 degrees

TANKAGE: 68 gallons fuel, 23 gallons water, 10 gallons waste

POWER: single diesel to 315 hp

SPEED: 36 mph top, 26 mph cruise

PRICE: $300,000

CONTACT: NSY, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Mass.

Phone: (978) 210-7550.

www.nordicstarusa.com